Structure and function of the ribosomal frameshifting pseudoknot RNA from beet western yellow virus

Martin Egli*, Sanjay Sarkhel, George Minasov, Alexander Rich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Many viruses reprogram ribosomes to produce two different proteins from two different reading frames. So-called - frameshifting often involves pairwise alignment of two adjacent tRNAs at a 'slippery' sequence in the ribosomal A and P sites such that an overlapping codon is shifted upstream by one base relative to the zero frame. In the majority of cases, an RNA pseudoknot located downstream stimulates this type of frameshift. Crystal structures of the frameshifting RNA pseudoknot from Beet Western Yellow Virus (BWYV) have provided a detailed picture of the tertiary interactions stabilizing this folding motif, including a minor-groove triplex and quadruple-base interactions. The structure determined at atomic resolution revealed the locations of several magnesium ions and provided insights into the role of structured water stabilizing the RNA. Systematic in vitro and in vivo mutational analyses based on the structural results revealed specific tertiary interactions and regions in the pseudoknot that drastically change frameshifting efficiency. Here, we summarize recent advances in our understanding of pseudoknot-mediated ribosomal frameshifting on the basis of the insights gained from structural and functional studies of the RNA pseudoknot from BWYV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1709-1727
Number of pages19
JournalHelvetica Chimica Acta
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 30 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Biochemistry
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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